KidScreen Retail: USA High promo follows teens to the malls

A four-tiered promotional campaign for USA Network's new series USA High, which includes the network's first-ever mall tour, targets teens with prizes that offer direct contact with the show's stars....
October 1, 1997

A four-tiered promotional campaign for USA Network’s new series USA High, which includes the network’s first-ever mall tour, targets teens with prizes that offer direct contact with the show’s stars.

Prizes include a chance to a win a cyber-date with a favorite cast member, through the ‘Win A Cyber-Date’ contest, and an opportunity to join the cast for a walk-on part, through the ‘Be A Star’ sweepstakes and the national mall tour.

‘This has been a challenge for us because we’ve never done anything for teens before,’ says Jennifer C. Monaco, director of consumer promotion at USA Networks. ‘We looked for partners who would make sense for us.’

The ‘USA High Mall Tour’ will travel to six cities and 10 malls this month and early November, and will feature a tie-in with retailer Spencer Gifts, a national mall chain specializing in gag gifts, youth-oriented posters and other teen merchandise, such as lava lamps.

‘Spencer Gifts was perfect, as we sought retail partners with a teen orientation. It’s a mecca for kids, a teen hangout,’ notes Monaco. During the tour, stores at each location will be giving out a free USA High gift premium.

Designing a mall tour that would lure teens was a challenge Monaco and her marketing team approached creatively.

‘There was a real effort to drive teens to the mall,’ she notes. She says that since USA High is the network’s first-ever original teen show, marketing efforts had to reach off-air onto radio stations to capture the attention of the youth audience. Monaco worked closely with the network’s ad agency to select local radio stations with high teen demos for promotion of the tour. ‘For instance, in New York, Z-100 has a big teen following,’ she says.

The decision to undertake the mall tour, which will be hosted by two of the show’s stars, was another aspect of the overall effort to reach off-air into places teens hang out, Monaco notes.

‘We wanted to get the stars interacting with the public, with their viewers. I wouldn’t have chosen schools or libraries, because malls are where teens hang out,’ she says.

Cast members have another powerful attraction for teens, according to Monaco: ‘The stars are pretty hunky looking and they’re already attracting a following. With the larger prize, [teens] can win a walk-on partÑthat’s something they can’t buy anywhere.’

Another aspect of the overall promotional campaign is the print/on-line ‘Win A Cyber-Date’ contest, promoted via a special teen issue from partner Total TV magazine.

The in-theater ‘Be A Star’ contest is taking place at 96 National Amusements theaters, where clips from the show are screened prior to movie trailers and in theater lobbies. Displays alongside the monitors in theater lobbies offer entry cards for the sweepstakes. The first prize is a walk-on part on the show.

Monaco says the decision to tie in to movie theaters was based on research on how the youth audience spends its time. ‘Teens go to movies like crazy,’ says Monaco.

She stresses that clips from the show airing at theaters offer viewers a taste of the new USA High program. ‘It’s not an ad. We’re working with [theaters] purely on a promotional-partner basis.’

What’s in it for the theaters? ‘A great prize for moviegoers. This broadens the experience of the movie,’ says Monaco.

The fourth facet of the campaign, the just-completed ‘USA Back-to-School Sweepstakes’ promotion, offered a US$500 shopping spree and back-to-school packages consisting of school bags and supplies emblazoned with artwork and logos from the show.

All four of the consumer promotions are also supported on USA Network’s Web site (

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